After being stuck inside all winter, and developing a severe case of cabin fever, all of us anxiously await the arrival of the warm spring weather. But some of us in the criminal justice field dread the potential increase in crimes caused by rising temperatures.
A contributing factor may be the change in temperature from cold to warm, or it just may be that we are all more active outside during warmer weather. Hot temperatures may cause some of us to experience a form of aggravation that causes some to lose their temper more easily, consequently becoming more prone to violence.
Examining factors behind crime increase
Although many law enforcement departments across the country report increases in crime during warm weather months, according to Laura Brinkman, Associate Director at the University of Chicago Crime Lab, “There is no clear causal explanation for the pattern that is consistently applicable across different settings.”
Brinkman adds though, “One contributing factor might be schools are out, over a short period of time in the spring months for spring break. Traditionally statistics have shown that crime will increase when school is not in session. Just like it spikes in the summer and drops in the fall. This is largely due to the boredom that is present in the youth. Statistically crime has also shown a slight increase in late December and early January due to Christmas break.”
This is not to suggest that juveniles are responsible for all the crime being committed. Part of the increase is due to them becoming crime victims as well. With school being out there are more kids out and about, which means more potential victims for the criminal to exploit. Juveniles themselves can be more prone to becoming crime victims simply because they are not yet experienced in realizing self-awareness when it comes to personal safety. You also might see more fights between teenagers as they start to spend more time hanging out outside.
Some violent crime might increase, like robbery for instance, due to more people of all ages being outside which in turn presents more potential victims for criminals. The biggest increase is often in property crimes. With warmer weather, people tend to start bringing out and leaving out valuables, such as bicycles, lawn furniture, yard equipment, etc. This creates more opportunities for would-be criminals to commit theft.
Although the spring can be a critical time, people are advised to always take safety precautions. Always be aware of your surroundings; when possible, avoid unfamiliar or potentially unsafe situations; don’t leave valuables outside where they can easily be stolen; and never hesitate to call 911 if you observe anything suspicious.